Pandemic Resets Housewares Retailing Balance Of Power

Normal is never going to look the same again, and although circumstances are shaping up to provide profound opportunity for housewares and home furnishings retailers, the emerging marketplace is going to require sweeping, even radical, departures from past practices.

In recognition of this reality, HOMEWORLD BUSINESS decided to forgo its traditional Top 100 Housewares Retailers look at what happened in the year past among top operators and refocus on the past six months, as what has happened in that time frame will influence the operations of retailers and vendors of home-related products far more than what happened in 2019.

Not that previous trends in the marketplace have faded to unimportance, rather they have been accelerated or relegated, at least temporarily, and while the relevance of developments will change over time, what is happening to and among participants is changing internal dynamics driven by demand from consumers whose whole outlook has been reshaped.

The greater attention consumers are paying to their homes, activities and domestic lifestyles just happens to be a terrific opportunity for retailers and vendors who can supply the products that help them realize their now more far-reaching household aspirations.

“The pandemic has forced consumers to eat at home,” said Joe Derochowski, vp/home industry adviser for The NPD Group. “You have more family activities in the home, more entertaining inside or outside the house, people doing things to battle boredom or monotony. It has made our industry hot. Sales are up every week except one. This is where the consumer is spending money. That’s good, because it’s setting the foundation of what comes next.”

Because change is coming so hard and fast in the current state of affairs, HomeWorld Business decided to work with The NPD Group to look specifically at what happened to housewares sales in the first half of 2020, with additional consideration paid to household penetration achieved by major retailers. Compared to past evaluations of the retail marketplace for home products, change is evident in the Top 50. Take Amazon, for example.

Where previously, Amazon was further down the Top 10, in fact number seven in the 2019 top 100 covering sales in 2018, the COVID-19 pandemic has propelled it to the top of the housewares heap, at least for now.

For more on the Top 50 Housewares Retailers, see the September 14, 2020, issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS.